FIFA has published a comprehensive document that details the reforms conducted within football’s transfer system during the 2017-2022 period.
Modernising football’s regulatory framework and increasing transparency, integrity and fairness within the transfer system has been one of FIFA’s key pillars since the launch of FIFA 2.0 in late 2016, and it is also the first objective of the FIFA Vision 2020-2023.
The process, which was initiated in 2017 under the direction of the FIFA Football Stakeholders Committee, represented the first wholesale review of football’s transfer system since its implementation in 2001, and thanks to the support and cooperation of the various stakeholders (FIFA member associations, confederations, ECA, FIFPRO and WLF), it has led to many important reforms and achievements with impactful and positive outcomes for the football community.
These include, among others, the introduction of the following:
- Further protections for players who are mistreated by their clubs, including the codification of further just causes for players to unilaterally terminate their contracts, as well as the implementation of compulsory consequences for parties that fail to comply with a decision of a FIFA body to pay a sum of money
- Protections and guarantees for female players who are pregnant or give birth while under contract
- The FIFA Clearing House to process payments, promote financial transparency and raise governance standards
- A regulatory framework for coaches, providing the same minimum protections as those in place for players
- A new regulatory framework for football agents, providing fundamental ethical and professional standards, as well as protection for clients and football agents alike
- Further protections for minor players, including the first-ever regulatory framework for trials with rules concerning medical care, minimum age and an effective way to seek legal protection, while also implementing a more stringent regulation in relation to private academies to increase oversight of minors, and the modernisation and more flexible application of the humanitarian exception to reflect real-life cases
- A new, streamlined decision-making body, the FIFA Football Tribunal, which dealt with more than 14,000 disputes and regulatory applications in its first year of operations
- A new regulatory framework for loans to protect youth development, promote competitive balance and prevent the hoarding of players
- The FIFA Fund for Football Players to compensate players whose clubs are declared insolvent, liquidated, subject to bankruptcy proceedings, or have been disaffiliated from organised football. A total of USD 16m has been allocated by FIFA the end of 2022.
As part of FIFA’s commitment to constantly adapt the regulatory framework to the current reality of football and the transfer system, a number of other technical initiatives have been implemented, including among others, the launch of the FIFA Legal Portal – an online platform through which proceedings before FIFA bodies will be conducted and which will gradually replace the email communication system – and the publication of an updated Commentary on the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players to support the various stakeholders and ensure that the regulations are applied consistently across the global football community.
The 2017-2022 reform process was also impacted by unprecedented worldwide circumstances and challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which required the development of a swift and efficient regulatory response and led to temporary adjustments to the FIFA regulations.
The reform of the transfer system has also been commended and supported by the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.
Victor Montagliani, FIFA vice-president and chairman of the FIFA Football Stakeholders Committee commented: “FIFA remains focused on accomplishing the final steps of this process, as planned with the various stakeholders, and continues to be mindful of changes within the football ecosystem in order to be ready to adapt and modernise its rules accordingly, all with the ultimate goal of creating an even better and truly global game”.